Category Archives: People

How to Draw a Guard from Squid Games Real Easy

It is a quandary wether to draw something from a show like Squid Games. The show is very violent, but no worse than, say, John Wayne shooting Apaches or watching much of what appears on the news every night.

There have always been real world atrocities, and probably always will be. New situations and new methods become available are outrageous because we don’t expect them to happen. They have novelty value. But, sadly, we eventually get used to them and end up immortalising the perpetrators in history, wether we mean to or not. TV news is a hidden recruiter.

Squid Games is actually quite interesting if, like me, you close your eyes when the bad bits come on. It is stylish and throws open a window on another culture I don’t really know much about. The characters are interesting and well drawn. The winners – up to ep 5 at least – are those who collaborate and use their wits against the faceless monolith that is happy to eliminate them without a care. You could say that it is the perfect story for the Pandemic. Random death amongst the most vulnerable in society.

I’ve seen many media panics before – The Exorcist – my goodness if you read the papers in the 70s you’d have though every other child was possessed, with a poltergeist on every street! Numerous horror movies over the years – remember Chucky? (I never saw it) The media love to blow up a story. Aliens in the 50s – fear sells.

And don’t forget how everyone wanted to ban the Simpsons! I seem to remember a panic about batman in the 60’s too, encouraging children to jump off buildings and zap, pow, biffing each other.

Most parents won’t let their children watchXx rated movies. But violence is on tap in the home now and hard to stop kids watching stuff. Most kids will boast at watching it, but probably have really and secretly don’t want to.

If they really are watching it and not just getting caught up in the hype and imagery, I’d rather draw their attention away by getting them to draw the characters, rather than emulating them, and learn something along the way.

While drawing the characters, they’ll have time to think and maybe consider if the characters are goodies or baddies and which side they are on. Maybe even have time to consider the philosophical questions the show brings up, just as they might when they draw Space Marines eliminating a race of Zargons or a Cowboy shooting the very last Passenger Pigeon in the USA.

We will look back on Squid Games in twenty years time, as we look back on with Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction, which were panicked over, and wonder what the fuss was about. I’m sure it will win lots of awards! There is a reason it is a worldwide success, and it’s not because kids are watching it, because I don’t think they really are. It’s because it says something to us all at a particular moment in time.

Continue reading

Real artists don’t doodle!

I spotted a tweet this week, that praised the Illustrator, Chris Mould, for his performance at the Bath Literary Festival. The tweeter said he had been “talking about his new version of Animal Farm – accompanied with live doodling.”

I would normally roll my eyes and move on, but I decided to comment that Chris is an accomplished artist and performer. I couldn’t believe he had been just doodling. By way of apology, the commenter said he was a champion scribbler.

No! he is not!

Chris is a consummate artist. Just because he makes drawing look easy, it does not mean that he is either doodling or scribbling. Any scribblings or doodlings of an artist are done in sketchbooks far away from the public gaze – certainly not as a performance.

Chris can perform in public and draw his amazing creations because he has spent a lifetime of practice and sacrifice, drawing relentlessly to acquire the knowledge and skills that allows him to stand up on stage and “bang out a drawing” for the audience.

I visited Chris and made a couple of films about him in his studio a few years ago. He has only grown in stature and reputation since. See for yourself.

An illustrator needs a certain amount of natural talent and desire to get started. But that is not enough.

Hundreds of sketchbooks, scraps of paper, backs of envelopes, insides of cornflake packets, paper napkins, sand on beaches, walls, backs of hands, maths and english exercise books will have been covered in drawings across a lifetime. There will have been study, trial and error, mental breakdowns, ridicule from friends and family, put-downs from teachers and those who should know better.

The hurdles an illustrator has to jump, just to get to the starting point, are numerous and daunting. The starting point is to merely achieve minor technical mastery of drawing. Then comes the hard slog of developing a style, a recognisable style that publishers can exploit. A style that says, “this is by me, and no one else.”

Slowly, it comes together. And slowly, the recognition comes. Then, out of nowhere, an illustrator has to become a performing poodle too! Pushed onto the stage with a flipchart and a couple of hundred children to entertain for an hour or so – three or four times in a day!

Wait minute… that wasn’t in the job description!

And so a whole new trade, that of performer, has to be learned fast – with no one to teach or offer any help.

And again, years of practice, trial and error, fear and terror, schlepping across the country from one Travelodge to another – (when you should be at home drawing) – honing the skills, learning the jokes and timing, how to make an audience laugh and cry, how to bring them back from sugar highs and short-attention spans until you can hear a pin drop. No one teaches you that.

All that, so you can stand up on a stage and make it look easy.

So easy that both the organisers and the audience call it doodling or scribbling and make jokes about flogging the flipchart drawings on eBay once you’re gone.

You have to learn to ignore what I think is ignorance and a form of embarrassment, not knowing what to call what they have just seen. Then smile, and laugh, sign books, travel a couple of hundred miles to the next Travelodge, crash out, exhausted, then get up and do it all again the next day.

Please… Illustrators are artists of the highest calibre. All they really want to do is sit in their sheds and draw. Please don’t make it harder for them by calling them scribblers or doodlers.

Thank you.